Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair on Feb. 2, caught a glimpse of his shadow and left the impression that the brutal winter would last another six weeks.
Jimmy the Groundhog, Wisconsin’s rodent forecaster, also predicted six more weeks of winter — as well as a Seahawks win in the Super Bowl.
But Ohio’s lesser-known groundhog, Buckeye Chuck, didn’t see his shadow and predicted an early spring.
Regardless, WiG figures those predictions were in early February and we’re less than a month from the official first day of spring. A countdown to the big day…
Feb. 20 Settle into a comfy chair with Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. “One attraction in coming to the woods to live was that I should have leisure and opportunity to see the spring come in.”
Feb. 21 Ditch the socks and slap around in a pair of flip-flops.
Feb. 22 PrideFest arrives June 6-8. Shop your fave local retailer for just the right outfit for the dance pavilion. Or get online at JackThreads.com, which has some cool clothes for grrls and bois.
Feb. 23 Tell yourself time is running out to get in one last ski trip and get over to Wilmot Mountain to ski the black diamond trails — or just drink the Brew Ski in the Main Lodge Bar.
Feb. 24 Book a site at Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan and plan to go glamping or camping when the “facilities” start running again after the thaw.
Feb. 25 Visit the Milwaukee Art Museum on the lakefront to see Vestie Davis’ painting Nathan’s Coney Island in the Uncommon Folk: Traditions in American Art exhibit and Pierre Bonnard’s vibrant View from the Artist’s Studio in the museum’s collection.
Feb. 26 Prepare for March Madness. Make friends with someone who got the Mad Love Valentine’s Day package of tickets to the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship at the Bradley Center March 20-22.
Feb. 27 Chart a drive on Wisconsin State Highway 35, the Wisconsin Great River Road and a National Scenic Byway. Go early and see wintering bald eagles near Lock & Dam No. 4. Wait for warmer weather and take a kayak out past fishing great blue herons.
Feb. 28 Cue up a springtime movie marathon that begins with Emma, ends with Memoirs of a Geisha and includes The Secret Garden.
March 1 Pop the tab or pry the cap off an ice-cold beer. Say, “Ahhh.” And pretend to wipe the sweat from your brow.
March 2 Seed a pepper pot on the kitchen windowsill and head out for the 12th annual Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser at the MSOE Kern Center on Broadway. The Kevin Fayte Rock and Roll Trio will provide the rockabilly. Firehouses and local chefs will serve the chili. Rockabilly trivia — Sam Phillips opened Sun Records in Memphis in March 1952.
March 3 Buy a share in a fresh produce coop or start searching for a neighborhood farmers market. Tip: Milwaukee’s East Town Market and Westown Farmers Market open in June.
March 4 Spend fat Tuesday at the Turner Hall Ballroom with Herman Astro and the Extra Crispy Brass Band providing the heat, Maxie’s providing dinner and 88Nine Radio Milwaukee promising Milwaukee’s largest king cake.
March 5 Clean the cobwebs off the bicycle. And, if it requires more than pumping up the two wheels, head over to Big Foot Bike and Skate or the neighborhood bike shop for a tuneup.
March 6 Make plans to celebrate Earth Day and observe National Arbor Day. New members of the Arbor Day Foundation get 10 free flowering trees to plant — or to donate to a park.
March 7 Try urban geocaching through Discover Milwaukee’s Neighborhood GeoTour and trek through a neighborhood. Each geocache contains a neighborhood history and tips on things to do and see.
March 8 Practice welcoming back the sunburned snowbirds who soon will be returning from Florida, Arizona and Texas. Say, “Chicken.”
March 9 Spring ahead, literally. The time change — setting the clocks an hour ahead — means more evening sunlight.
March 10 Get a leg up on spring by climbing to the top of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center’s observation tower for a view of Lake Michigan. Located about 15 minutes from downtown Milwaukee, the center boasts 6 miles of trails on 185 acres.
March 11 Dig out a springtime toy — a Frisbee, a kite, a ball glove, a basketball, a skateboard, a Hacky Sack — and get ready to show off your talent at Bradford Beach. Everything’s buried behind the coats and gloves in the closet? Treat yourself to something new.
March 12 Decide whether you want to get to Miller Park in May to catch the Brewers series against the Baltimore Orioles or the series against the Yankees. Or maybe be there for opening day: March 31.
March 13 Shake off winter’s frost and go for a run, walk or bike ride on Milwaukee’s Oak Leaf Trail. The 114-mile network includes sights of wooded parks, boulevard mansions and even hidden waterfalls.
March 14 Clear off the patio, porch, balcony or fire escape, set up the patio furniture and clean up the grill. Maybe invest in the lounger you were eyeing last summer.
March 15 Check for the blooms report at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners. The Milwaukee County showplace opens in April. By then, there’ll be daffodils, forsythias, spring bulbs and wildflowers.
March 16 Step out and gaze at the full moon. And then lend your support to Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf or one of the other groups working to protect the wolves — only now making a recovery from near extinction — from government-sanctioned hunting.
March 17 Connect over a Guinness with some friends you haven’t seen since the tulips bloomed last year or since that Chicago River turned green.
March 18 Take a seat at a table in the first open sidewalk cafe you find. Maybe order a spring salad and a funky white wine.
March 19 Throw open the windows and prop open the door to air out the stale air of winter and usher in the new season.
March 20 Still feel the need to get away? WiG editor Lisa Neff has floor space for four in her bungalow on Anna Maria Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. And she can point you west to the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. The cheapest flights to the area usually are on Southwest. But beware, the evenings down there have been a chilly 52 or below.